MOTHER 2 (JP)
|System:||Super NES (US)
Super Famicom (JP)
|Release:||June 5, 1995 (US)
August 27, 1994 (JP)
|VC Release:||March 20, 2013 (JP)|
|Rating:||K-A (US ESRB)|
|Developer:||HAL Laboratories / APE|
|Slogan:||"Kids, grownups, and even young women." (JP)
"This game stinks." (US)
In 1995, RPGs were stuck in a rut that Dragon Quest had dug. Most were still set in medieval times, with knights and mages battling mythical monsters with swords and magic. Few games dared to defy this mold until EarthBound (MOTHER 2 as it is known in Japan). No other game was like it, except maybe its prequel, MOTHER, which had not been released outside of Japan. EarthBound introduced, and even today continues to introduce, RPG fans to an entirely different experience.
The story is set in the 1990s in Eagleland, a kitschy and romanticized parody of America (perfect lawns and quiet suburbs). No dragons, mystical knights, or staff-wielding wizards appear in this game. You are just an average 13 year old kid from the suburbs...until the night a meteor lands in your backyard. The local wildlife start attacking you, a gang of local hoodlums begins causing trouble downtown, you realize that you have psychic powers, and a mysterious messenger from the future tells you that you are destined to save the world.
But, before you face any of this, your mom reminds you to change out of your pajamas.
Armed with a cracked baseball bat, a lucky charm for protection, and whatever food you can find (including whatever gets thrown into the trashcan outside the burger joint), you begin your quest to stop the evil alien Giygas from destroying the world.
A few highlights from the game:
- obsessive-compulsive police roadblocks
- bribing crooked politicians
- saving a girl kidnapped by a cult obsessed with the color blue
- solving a town's zombie problem
- freeing a race of aliens enslaved by a talking pile of puke
- fighting hippies with toothbrushes
- wandering inside a psychedelic minus-world ruled by an evil statue
- being taught by a talking monkey how to teleport
- having your soul transplanted into the body of a robot in order to facilitate time travel
But, before you get too involved in these kinds of things, you should remember to call your mother. If you go too long without hearing her voice, you'll get homesick.
In addition to this, the EarthBound universe draws heavily from pop culture. Some references/hat-tips you might pick up if you're paying attention:
- The Beatles
- Chuck Berry
- Monty Python
- Blues Brothers
- Little Rascals
- The Loch Ness Monster
- More Sci-fi-Horror B-Movies from the 1950's than you can count
The massive success of MOTHER 2 in Japan prompted Nintendo of America to give EarthBound a pretty heavy-duty marketing campaign - posters in video game stores and rental chains, ads in magazines, coupons for $10 off the purchase of the game, and even TV commercials (still pretty rare for video games back in 1995). The best part is that the campaign's slogan was "This Game Stinks."
In addition to the marketing materials, the fine folks at NOA poured their heart and soul into one of the funniest and most thorough players' guides ever to come with a game. It even came with scratch 'n sniff trading cards at the back, one of which was a 'mystery scent' (that turned out to be pizza) that you could mail in to Nintendo and get a free air freshener (which bore the image of a pizza man from the game). Even EarthBound's box was an advertisement: instead of a regular SNES game box, EarthBound came in a huge, brightly colored box which held both the game and the free player's guide.
Despite the hype and effort, EarthBound did not sell well in America. This was due partially to EarthBound's simple graphics, which weren't designed to push the graphical capabilities of the SNES like other titles of its era (Chrono Trigger, Final Fantasy VI). Even today the simple graphics serve as a stumbling block for many potential gamers, but they belie EarthBound's brilliant plot and dialogue.